Craftsman Michael Wadsworth, 77

MICHAEL Wadsworth, who died at Calderdale Royal Hospital on Sunday, February 26, aged 77, was recognised by the Todmorden woodworking fraternity as an exceptionally talented cabinet maker who, following a successful apprenticeship, rose to the positions of factory manager and then development manager.

He was born in Todmorden on January 24, 1935, the eldest son of five children in the family of Henry and Kathleen Wadsworth, writes Bill Birch.

There were three daughters, Margaret, Kathleen and baby Monica, all deceased, and his surviving brother John.

Michael was educated at St Joseph’s School, Todmorden, and St Mary’s in Burnley, before starting his working life as an apprentice with J. H. Sutcliffe and Son on Halifax Road, Todmorden.

He gained his City and Guilds prior to National Service in the Royal Air Force when he was posted to Lynton-on-Ouse. Following demob he returned to “Jim ‘Arry’s”, as Sutcliffe’s was commonly known, but not long afterwards he joined Alan Cooper’s, where he designed a range of desks that quickly became very succesful.

Keith Marsden, a colleague there, left to start his own company and took Michael with him. After Keith’s untimely death the company was bought by local furniture manufacturer Colin Greenwood who by this time was managing director of J. H. Sutcliffe’s.

The firm now had a second factory operating at Stoodley in Eastwood that Michael managed until re-organisation by new MD George Mitchell brought him to its Frostholme Mill headquarters at Cornholme. There he served as development manager until he retired in January 2000.

During his lifetime Michael was a member of the Todmorden Needy Sick and War Memorial committees, an Honorary Member of SSAFA and president of St Joseph’s Vincent de Paul Society. He had lifelong friends in John Ashworth, Harold McHugh and his own brother, John. Seldom did a Friday night pass by without them meeting together.

While he was still working, Michael was a keen walker at weekends. He timed his Sundays to perfection, always making sure to arrive at the Top Brink Inn spot on 2pm! On retirement he joined the Wednesday Walking Group and in his 70th year made his last Todmorden Boundary Walk.

Michael was an enthusiastic horticulturist, his garden a paradise where floral displays, sweet peas, begonias and roses were always superb. During summertime there was always an abundance of appetising tomatoes growing in his heated greenhouse. What’s more, he was a consistent prizewinner in the annual Todmorden In Bloom events.

He became enthused about jazz and took a shine to the Dave Brubeck Quartet - especially the combo’s melodious alto saxophonist Paul Desmond. The same applied to the swinging American tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims. Most of all though, he enjoyed listening to the pulsating drive of Count Basie’s band.

On August 30, 1960, at St Joseph’s Church, Todmorden, he married Rita Sutcliffe. She survives him, together with their sons Richard and Jonathan, daughters-in-law Julie and Geraldine, and grandchildren Thomas, Patrick, Beatrice, Ruth and Lucy.

Michael’s funeral takes place at 10.15am today, March 8, at St Joseph’s Church, followed by internment at Mankinholes.